Richie Diehl finishes first Iditarod in 35th place

by Angela Denning-Barnes on March 15, 2013

Richie Diehl at the finish line, March 14. Photo by John Wallace

Richie Diehl at the finish line, March 14. Photo by John Wallace

Richie Diehl of Aniak finished his first Iditarod race in 35th place, crossing the finish line Thursday at 1:32 p.m. Diehl was the third Y-K Delta musher to finish the Iditarod and be greeted by a large group of supporters in and around the finishing chute.

“It went well, I had a real good time and there were a lot of challenges along the way but we figured it out and got it done,” Diehl said.

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Diehl’s main challenge was the same one that his fellow Y-K Delta mushers experienced: sick dogs in the beginning of the race. To get through that, Diehl said that he rested a little bit more than he had planned to rest.

He crossed the finish line with 10 dogs in harness and one in the sled that he had put in about 10 miles back on the trail. One of his goals for his rookie run was to keep his team healthy and happy; not an easy task when the race trail this year included some deep snow as well as water early on.

“One day we went swimming in a couple creeks and we got rained on so it wasn’t much fun,” Diehl said laughing.

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A wind storm blew up on Diehl’s final day on the trail. He said the wind hit hardest when he was going over the Topkok Hills.

“I’ve never experienced wind like that,” Diehl said. “It was something else. It was to where I couldn’t even see the dogs in front of wheel. I was just hoping the leaders were just staying on the trail and we popped over that last hill and we were still on the trail so it was nice to see.”

Diehl wasn’t only watching his own team though. The Iditarod features the best teams in the world and Diehl took notice of how well they were able to overcome all the blows the race throws at them.

“I was totally shocked at how those guys kept moving,” Diehl said. “A lot of them had sick teams too. And they all did a great job of taking care of their dogs but still moving down the trail at a good pace.”

A lot of those skills come with experience and that’s something that Diehl would like to get more of. He says he will be back to the Iditarod next year.

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